SIGNIS Africa Trains Trainers on Online Project Application Platform
As embassies, organizations and companies are undergoing digital transformation to automate their operations, SIGNIS Africa, which is the continental branch of the World Catholic Association for Communication has trained the parties at continental, regional and national levels to familiarize them with the online Propagation of Faith project application and embrace the new policy.
“As we all know, we are now living in the digital age and many operations in different fields of life are migrating from the analogue to the digital platform,” SIGNIS President Fr. Prof. Walter Chikwendu Ihejirika told AMECEA Online in an interview on Thursday, June 11.
“The world Catholic Association for Communication, SIGNIS, has to play a leading role in the new era. Therefore, it becomes logical that we have to migrate from the old application format to the digital platform,” he added.
According to the SIGNIS President, in the old format which he describes as the “hard paper format,” the applicant had to manually send the application via mail to the General Secretariat of SIGNIS in Brussels, Belgium: in the new format, “the applicant simply completes the form online, uploads the necessary accompanying documents and submits the application just with a click.”
SIGNIS whose mission is to “engage with media professionals and support Catholic Communicators to help transform our cultures in the light of the Gospel by promoting Human Dignity, Justice and Reconciliation,” convened zoom workshops to conduct trainings for the Anglophone and Francophone participants.
“The training had a dual aim; to familiarize the participants with the new digital platform developed by SIGNIS for receiving and evaluating communication-related applications for funds submitted to Propaganda Fide, and to enhance the capacity of SIGNIS-Africa members to write viable projects for funding agencies,” Fr. Ihejirika disclosed.
He narrated the intent of trainings saying, “In our years of evaluating projects submitted for funding to Propaganda Fide, we note that sometimes, applicants may have good projects, but they lack the capacity to articulate the presentation in such a way that will meet the expectations of the funder.”
The training which was conducted by SIGNIS Project Development Consultant Mr. George Heston, focused on two main areas namely, the six steps in effective project proposal writing and how to go about the SIGNIS online project proposal application.
In total, 32 members participated from 26 African countries, including the board of SIGNIS Africa, Regional Social Communications Coordinators, National Social Communications Directors and national representatives of SIGNIS.
“We expect that the various heads will pass on the knowledge they have gained to all the Catholic communicators and institutions within their region or nations,” SIGNIS president expressed his expected outcome from the participants after the training.
“At the end, we expect that Catholic communicators will be able to write good projects, make effective use of the new digital platform created by SIGNIS (and also) make proper use of funds received, and submit reports after the execution of the projects,” he added.
2.KENYA: Presidents of SECAM and COMECE Urge AU and EU to Strengthen Partnership with Africa’s Religious Leaders
As African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) prepare for their 6th Summit which is due this year, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and Commission of Bishops Conferences in Europe (COMECE) are calling for shared responsibility between Africa, Europe and the religious actors in view of sustainable development and prosperity.
The two continental bodies of Catholic bishops have said this through a joint statement which is signed by their presidents Cardinal Phillippe Nakellentuba Ouedraogo (SECAM) and Cardinal Jean Claude Hollerich (COMECE) entitled “For a people-centred, just and responsible partnership between our continents”.
“At a time when our two continents as well as the entire world have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and its devastating consequences, we are firmly convinced that Africa and Europe could become engines for reinvigoration of multilateral cooperation by reinforcing their long-standing ties marked by common roots and geographical proximity,” say Cardinal Hollerich and Cardinal Ouedraogo.
“Europe can only be prosperous and in peace if we share peace and prosperity with our neighbours. For us Christians, African and Madagascar are not only our neighbours but our brothers and sisters, and we want to share with them,” they added.
COMECE and SECAM whose Secretariats are based on Brussels (Belgium) and Accra (Ghana) respectively draw attention of the policy makers for Europe and Africa to the Catholic Church’s concern for the people “particularly those in situations of vulnerability and weakness, affected by extreme poverty and hunger, persisting lack of an equitable access to basic services, corruption, violence, terrorist attacks and persecution against vulnerable religious communities, as well as exploitation of natural resources and environmental degradation.”
In the statement which reached AMECEA Online on Thursday June 11, 2020, COMECE and SECAM appreciate the preparatory efforts of the two organizations but found it worthwhile to give their recommendations as guided by the Catholic Social Teaching.
COMECE and SECAM presidents highlight the spirit of partnership for integral human
development and insist on prioritizing “unhindered access to basic social services, adequate health care, education, nutrition, clean water and sanitation and descent housing.”
They also highlight partnership for integral ecology saying, “We encourage the adoption of policies that will raise public awareness and promote a change in citizen’s consumption patterns which are still very dependent on exploitative practices.”
Reminding the AU and EU of Pope Francis’ recent appeals to the international community “to eliminate the scourge of terrorism that is causing more and more bloodshed in Africa” Cardinal Hollerich and Cardinal Ouedraogo also advocate for partnership for promotion of human dignity, true security and sustainable peace.
“Perpetrators of these crimes should be brought to justice and the victims should receive full support of their respective governments and societies,” they add.
On addressing the problem of migration, the presidents of COMECE and SECAM insist that the international community must “facilitate their return and ensure adequate measures of protection and respect for their rights” but also ensure that those returning “receive adequate assistance for their reintegration in their communities.”
The SECAM and COMECE leadership argue that through the Catholic Social Teaching, the Church has already been giving guidance in order for AU and EU to addressing these challenges.
“We believe that the principles and values of human dignity, solidarity, preferential option for the poor, universal destination of goods, the promotion of integral human development, responsible stewardship of all creation, as well as the pursuit of the common good are necessary guidance and orientation in shaping the respective policy responses and actions,” the statement continues.
COMECE and SECAM acknowledge that in African societies, religion and culture are deeply rooted in community and personal bonds. As such, they recommend that the EU and AU strengthens partnership with the religious leaders on the continent.
“In this respect, we encourage policy makers on both continents to adopt policies contributing to a favourable environment and supporting inclusive inter-religious encounters and actions, while respecting the different ethos of the religious actors,” COMECE and SECAM recommend.
“It is our hope that the observations and policy recommendations elaborated by our Secretariats may be a constructive contribution to the preparations for the 6th AU-EU Summit,” concl
3.TANZANIA: TEC Donates Coronavirus Protective Equipment to Parishes and Health Centres
Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) has donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), sanitizers, infrared thermometers and masks to some parishes in the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam and the Diocese of Zanzibar as the fight against Covid-19 pandemic continues.
On his part, receiving the equipment, Bishop Augustine Shao of Zanzibar Diocese thanked the Conference for providing the materials to his Diocese which is located in on one of the islands in the coast of Tanzania.
“This is how we implement what we say. Corona exists and it kills. We really needed the preventive equipment,” he said adding, “Our people must wash hands every time with clean water and soap, use masks and sanitizers.”
He is also said he is impressed by the infrared thermometers which will be used in some dispensaries located in the rural parts of Zanzibar.
After receiving the equipment, Bishop Shao provided some to Fr. Doctor Mathias Ng’oja who supervises the Kitope Mission Dispensary.
He also availed some to Saint Camillus Hospital in Tomondo Zanzibar under the supervision of Sister Maria Theresia Shao.
Some of the equipment has also been donated to a counseling centre located in Chukwani Zanzibar which is for single mothers, children infected with HIV, victims of narcotics and the poor.
Meanwhile, the head of Justice and Peace commission in the Diocese Fr. Damasi Mfoi thanked the Conference for providing the Covid-19 protective equipment to the isolated community.
“Chukwani center provides services for children and people living with HIV, single mothers and victims of drugs. We serve all people regardless of religion, ethnicity, race etc. Here we witness the Gospel of Jesus Christ which emphasizes love for all. We are here to give love to God’s people and this is how we live the Catholic faith here in Zanzibar – caring for the poor, the widows,” he said.
Commenting on the role that TEC is playing during this pandemic Fr Mfoi continued to say, “We gain strength when TEC collaborates with us to provide support to these caregivers as they are at risk of easily getting infected by Coronavirus.”
Receiving the equipment on behalf of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam, Fr. Paul Chiwangu of the Immaculate Conception, Kurasini, thanked the Conference for being in the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 which is currently a national and global epidemic.
“This thermometer will be used to measure our believers’ temperature before entering the Church. Those who appear to have high temperature will be advised to follow the instructions given by the government through the Ministry of Health on what to do,” said Father Chiwangu.
The Conference also distributed part of the equipment to St. Maurus Parish and has plans to donate sanitizers around small Christian Communities in some parishes in Dar es Salaam.
4.KENYA: Nyeri Archdiocese Sets Up Counseling and Support Centre to Address Effects of COVID-19
The Archdiocese of Nyeri has launched a Christian based counseling and support centre to provide psycho-social support to individuals and families facing difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic period.
The Good Shepherd Call Centre which is a toll-free number that everyone can call or SMS to get support, was launched on Tuesday, April 9 by Nyeri Archbishop Anthony Muheria.
In an interview with The Catholic Media Network, Archbishop Muheria noted that with Government adopting strict measures to counter the spread of COVID-19 including restriction of movement, stress levels among the people have heightened, leading to conflicts within families and affecting marriage as an institution.
“The centre will provide psychological counseling and encouragement, including marriage counseling to direct marital disagreements and other relationship matters and work towards a harmonious solution,” he said.
“It will also provide spiritual support and is intended for any person from any religion or part of the country, who finds himself or herself in a situation of mental stress,” the Archbishop added.
“We have deployed 30 counselors and priests who will be available 24hours to advise and ease the stress,” he said.
The centre is coordinated by Rev. Fr. Stephen Ndung’u, a certified counselor, and is supported by over 10 psychologists who have volunteered to follow up on cases that need specialized attention. Meanwhile, volunteer call centre attendants are undergoing a crash program on psychological counseling skills.
Archbishop Muheria said they have set a criterion for providing support which involves helping the clients to first identify their problem and engaging relevant Government agencies for further management where necessary.
“We connect with the police where necessary,” said Archbishop Muheria adding, “We have so far found that, when people seek advice and help before the situation escalates, we achieve more success. The team has also been engaged in community education through Radio Maria, which airs two weekly programs addressing mental health, and causes of stress.
Recently, the Catholic Bishops in Kenya have expressed concern over reports of increased violence in families and cautioned Kenyans that domestic violence and gender-based violence are not acceptable under any circumstance.
“Problems due to Covid-19 must not bring strife among us, but must be a cause to reason together. Let us make our families the last fortress against Covid-19. The Holy Family of Nazareth is always the model,” the Bishops urged in their statement released on 31st March 2020, titled “overcoming COVID-19 as Kenyans in bearing each other’s burdens.”
Echoing the words of the Bishops’ Conference, Most Rev. Muheria, who is Chairman of the Commission for Pastoral and Lay Apostolate, noted that domestic violence comes where communication breaks down. He urged spouses to practice good parenting since domestic violence also involves children and may be more difficult to identify.
“Violence does not resolve any problem but only serves to escalate it,” he said. “When it is not possible to talk to your spouse, seek help from those who can assist. Marriage is a project that is not easy in itself. People need help, both spiritual and human. And it is not enough to pray. Seek help from those who can help you resolve your misunderstandings or disagreement.”
5.ETHIOPIA: Church Organizes an Ecumenical Vigil for Prayers on Covid-19
The Ethiopian Catholic Church organized an ecumenical vigil for the Pentecost, June 6, 2020 at St. Joseph Catholic School in Addis Ababa, where different faith communities gathered and prayed for God’s intervention to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the occasion, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo, the Evangelical Church leaders and the Secretary General of the Ethiopian Bible Society presented.
Giving his opening remarks, His Eminence Cardinal Berhaneyesus the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop said ecumenical communion and prayers are needed as the country undergoes health and socio-political crises.
All Christian religious leaders present for the occasion thanked the Ethiopian Catholic Church for the invitation to take part on such a unifying event which is first of its kind in the country.
At the closing of the event, all the religious leaders lit candles together and sent into the air helium-filled balloons with signed messages aimed at reaching out to various people in distant parts of the country.
The event which was organized by the Pastoral Office of the Archdiocesan Secretariat in collaboration with the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat and the Ethiopian Bible Society was televised in the entire country by the Addis Media Network.
6.ZAMBIA: Bishops Call for Withdrawal of Contentious Bill Bo. 10 from Parliament
The Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) has rejected Bill no. 10 of 2019, saying the process that was undertaken lacked genuine consensus and have called on Members of Parliament to withdraw the piece of legislation immediately.
In a statement dated June 9, 2020 and signed by ZCCB president Rt. Rev. George Lungu, the Catholic bishops said the Church firmly believes that any legitimate process of making, reviewing and amending the supreme law of the land ought to be premised on a process that is widely inclusive, transparent, accountable and anchored on consensus building rather than partisan interests.
Bill 10 seeks to review and amend the Constitution of Zambia as amended in 2016 so that it is fine-tuned. However, gathering from the reactions of some Zambians, there are a number of contentious issues about it which include a subtle way of increasing the executive power, paving way for coalition government where no political party achieves 50% plus one votes, the the parliament’s oversight role when it comes to government borrowing and national debt.
In this regard, the bishops who are joining other voices against the bill reiterate that the making of a people-driven Constitution that would stand the test of time calls for a spirit of dialogue and wider consultation with the stakeholders who are primarily the citizenry.
The Bishops added that [people-driven Constitution] dialogue involves a courteous discussion with a view to reaching or at least moving closer to a consensus. This requires stakeholders to be open, to be ready to listen and to share positions that will see a better future.
“Unfortunately, what we have observed with regard to Bill 10 is that the process that was undertaken lacked genuine consensus and has become a source of division in the country. Instead of bringing Zambians together for a common cause, it has further polarized them,” the statement reads.
“We hereby make our earnest appeal to the conscience of all Members of Parliament across the political divide to respect the will of the majority Zambians and immediately withdraw the said Bill 10 from the floor of the House,” the Bishops’ statement continues.
They further appealed to the people of Zambia not to lose hope. “We genuinely believe the words of our Lord Jesus Christ that those who hunger and thirst for justice will in the end be satisfied.”
7.KENYA: “Keep Away from Political Maneuvering” Archbishop of Nyeri Warns Judiciary
Most Rev. Anthony Muheria of the Archdiocese of Nyeri has told those working in the judicial system of the country to be independent in their profession and act in a way that their decisions promote justice and defend unity in the country.
The Archbishop’s message comes days after Kenya’s Judiciary accused the President for failing to approve the appointment of new judges whose names had been forwarded to the executive office mid-last year, causing challenges for the work in the courts.
“We ask you to keep away from political machination because that compromises justice,” Archbishop Muheria said via social media Tuesday, June 9.
“Remember the poor, remember the helpless, remember those who are voiceless as you mete out justice. Be godly so that the nobility of your profession may shine forth,” the Archbishop appealed to members of the judiciary reminding them that they are there to safeguard the nation’s harmony and unity.
Most Rev. Muheria also acknowledges that the judiciary is currently faced with challenges in settling disputes
“We know the difficulties that this Coronavirus, the lockdown and restrictions have caused to those processes which are meant to bring justice to the Kenyans and to the persons whose justice may in one way or the other have been infringed.”
Despite the challenges, he appeals to those involved in the justice system, “… our judges, our magistrates, our lawyers and all those who in one way or another fight in the civil right, human rights and others, to have at heart the rights of the human person,” he underscored.
Amidst the conflict between the two arms of government, Archbishop Muheria has reminded the judiciary of their role in bringing harmony in the country saying, “you are the last gate for justice to be given to those who need it.”
“Therefore, as you go about your work in the system, we urge you to keep that tenet of knowing that you are somehow God’s hand in making sure that human beings are held in the full dignity wherever they may be,” the Church leader stated.
“Live up to this divine call. We pray for you and hope that you leave up to your calling,” he concluded.
8.ETHIOPIA: Rekindle Love in Families, Have “compassion for the homeless”: Ethiopian Cardinal Amidst COVID-19
The President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) Berhaneyesus Cardinal Souraphiel has encouraged Christians to rekindle love in families so as to “overcome the challenges of the pandemic.
Cardinal Souraphiel stated this in his pastoral letter signed on the eve of Pentecost Sunday, June 6, following the Ethiopian Calendar when the Catholic faithful commemorated the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.
He urged all Catholics to be concerned with the vulnerable especially children saying, “Our home is our space of security. It is there that we learned to love, to grow and to socialize. There is warmth in a house where love reigns. Children become well-developed in a house where charity rules. A house that welcomes love becomes beautiful. Prayers flow easily in such a house.”
“Let us hence spark the fire of love in order to overcome the challenges of the pandemic. For love is as strong as death (and) Love is even stronger than death because of the death and resurrection of Christ,” the Cardinal added.
Cardinal Berhaneyesus who is the president of the Ethiopian Catholic Bishops Conferences and the local Ordinary of Addis Ababa reminded Christians that unity in families is reinforced through love which is the basis of society and the Church.
“Families established on divine love are the foundation of the society and the Church,” reads the statement
In the statement, he also encouraged Christians to be charitable as he quoted Jesus who said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.”
“In this connection, we may recall those who eat from hand to mouth. It would be wrong to say, “Let the fittest survive” and let us abandon the weak. That would be to harm ourselves and our society,” he added.
in the same pastoral letter, Cardinal Souraphiel addressed the importance of being stewards of creation. Referencing Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical Letter “Laudato Si”.
He appreciated what other nations are doing towards care of creation saying, “In some countries, mother earth enjoys good attention. Trees are planted in her honour at anniversaries, weddings, graduations or any other feasts. People plant as many trees as the number of the years of anniversaries. By doing this, they alleviate the earth’s suffering. They counter the damage caused by human greed and irresponsible exploitation.”
9.KENYA: Kenyans Urged to Adhere to Family Values, Christian Love and Forgiveness Amidst Covid-19 Related Challenges
As Covid-19 cases continue to spike and communities are beginning to experience new social challenges, Catholic Bishops have urged Kenyans not to lose hold of family and Christian values especially during this time when family members are spending most of the time together.
“We are aware of the challenges that have emerged due to Covid-19 pandemic. We note with great pastoral concern that emotions are running high, arguments are exploding frequently within our families,” Bishop Norman King’oo Wambua of Machakos Diocese said on behalf of the Kenya Conferences of Bishops (KCCB) on Trinity Sunday, June 7.
“Worries of access to food, money, rent and job security have characterized the lives of Kenyans, deepening the anxiety of what the future holds for us. These are bringing frustration and anger which results in forms of violence – gender-based violence and reckless behavior, different abuses, indifferences, separations, among others,” the bishops added.
“We urge all Kenyans not to take this pandemic not as an opportunity to deviate from family values but as a God-given moment to rethink and reflect on the meaning of family life and the values and fruits of marriage; to remember that love and forgiveness are the pillars of every family,” Bishop Norman King’oo Wambua who is also Chairman of KCCB’s Family Life National Office highlighted.
Speaking while presiding over a televised Mass at Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi, Bishop Wambua emphasized the significance of family in the society, echoing the Holy Father‘s words that the family is the basis of education.
“The family is considered as a basic unit of society, the original cell of social life whose stability constitutes the foundations of a society,” the Bishops noted and added, “Pope Francis emphasizes that it is in the family where values, faith and culture of the society are learned and practiced.”
He emphasized that the Kenyan bishops do acknowledge the different situations families are currently living in during the pandemic but are encouraging mutual love amidst the diverse circumstances as already cited in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) released in 2016.
“In Amoris Laetitia, we are told that crises form part of the life of every family. We are reminded that in the family life, we are to live the love of God in concrete terms; to grow in mutual love and all its characteristics as beautifully outlined by Saint Paul,” they added.
The Bishops in Kenya are encouraging healthy family life whose characteristics include good relationship with God and among each other, Promotion of unity, cooperation, constructive communication, empathy, forgiveness, mutual understanding, appreciation of one another and happy relationships.”
The Prelates warned the people about tribal clashes that have been experienced recently in Narok Country, leading to loss of lives, displacement of people and constantly living in fear. They have asked the government to call “for dialogue between the warring communities to settle their differences amicably in a bid to end the conflict.”
The bishops have further condemned “police brutality dispensed on innocent civilians during curfew enforcement, asking the law enforcers “to handle all situations in a humane way” and encouraging all Kenyans “to be law abiding citizens”.
“We reiterate our commitment to continue working with the State and non-State actors for the common good during these difficult times. We also continue encouraging Kenyans to pray and support the sick, the poor, the elderly, the vulnerable and persons with special needs within our society and to also abide by the directives issued by the Government so that together we can defeat the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bishop Wambua concluded.
10.MALAWI: Catholic University Heads-up on Getting Back to Classes Amid Covid-19
The Catholic University of Malawi Management this week, held a meeting to discuss schools’ reopening amid the novel Coronavirus that has hit the world, following a recommendation by Government’s Task Force under the Ministry of Education, Science Technology in the country that schools be opened on 13th July 2020.
Management of the University has then outlined measures to be undertaken while students are on campus amid the Covid-19 concerns that forced them to send students home as a way of preventing the spread of the Virus.
Through the University’s Covid-19 Response Task Force, management is considering ways to maintain social distance at Campus and to enforce regular check-up of body temperature of students and Staff each day before commencement of classes.
The chairperson of the University’s Covid-19 Response Task Force, Susan Sundu, disclosed that the institute is to ensure cleanliness and disinfection of classes each day. Furthermore, management has considered establishing class committees that are to oversee that measures of preventing Covid-19 are adhered to among the students.
The University has also planned to have an Isolation facility to be used by students with signs and symptoms of Covid-19 while on campus. The students are also to have psychological counselling as a way of preventing stigma among students.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor Rev. Dr. George Buleya commended the Staff for getting on board with e-learning to fill the teaching gap when the University had to be closed.
He described the e-learning experience as a milestone achievement by the University as it has helped students to learn from home during the crisis of COVID-19.
In March this year, the President of the Republic of Malawi Prof. Peter Mutharika ordered closure of all schools as a way of preventing the spread of Covid-19. However, stakeholders have been calling for schools’ reopening, arguing that the country is at risk of productivity loss due to prolonged closure.
11.KENYA: Catholic Priests Geared Up to be Agents of Change After Online Engagements on Ecological Conversion
Catholic priests in the Sub-Saharan Africa who benefited from the just concluded online engagements on ecological conversion convened by the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) are set to be agents of change in taking care of creation in various ways based on the knowledge acquired from the workshop.
“I realized that this group of leaders can do a lot through planting of trees, divesting from fossil fuel and using the pulpit to promote care for Mother Earth,” the Coordinator Promoting Integral Human Development (PIHD) at Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) Fr. Paul Igweta Mung’athia who participated in the online engagements told AMECEA online in an interview Thursday, June 11.
Fr. Mung’athia who has been conducting seminars and training coordinators in the AMECEA region on ‘care for our common home’ has disclosed more of his plans for the region saying, “I will encourage Conferences to engage in activities that are building the creation as new model of development and also challenge them to have a day of reflection on the joy of life that can be drawn from the Faith as a condition for development.”
The online engagements convened under the theme Laudato Si and biodiversity loss: African Catholic Clergy lead the way,” covered various topics including the significance and role of biodiversity to the African continent; scientific evidence about biodiversity within the framework of New Deal for Nature and People; ecological conversion and; engaging the Catholic faithful to reverse and halt further nature loss.
Fr. Mung’athia who is in the frontline on the issue which will be the main theme for reflection at the 2022 AMECEA Plenary Assembly said, “The theme was very well thought. We have even learnt that many birds and plants that were traditionally known in our continent have become extinct.”
On his part, Dr. Fr. Evarist Ankwasiize a member of the Congregation of Apostle of Jesus (AJ) who is patron of an environmental club in Kisubi University in Uganda told AMECEA Online, “I will be an agent of change. I will champion the planting of indigenous tree in my home parish as soon as rainy season starts and bring the topic to people’s consciousness in my preaching and apostolates.”
Fr. Evarist Ankwasiize who teaches environmental therapy at the university told AMECEA online the significance of the online engagements which helped him understand that “We are co-creators with God and we all depend on nature; and that all creation has rights which human beings need not violate and that manipulating the earth is an act of injustice to the earth itself and future generation of every specie.”
According to the Programs Manager of CYNESA Mr. David Munene, “Bishops have a critical role to play in shepherding their dioceses towards deliberate action on care for environment.”
He said that even the keynote speaker, Monsignor Bruno- Marie Duffe’ the Secretary of the Dicastery for promoting integral Human Development who is based in the Vatican reminded the priests to note that “to listen to the cry of the poor is to encounter and to be touched by the other while to listen to the cry of Mother Earth is to encounter biodiversity, ecosystems, and the littlest of beings.”
Mr. Munene told AMECEA online that “the Catholic clergy who participated in the sessions are expected to be the ambassadors to engage the public and inspire action to live Laudato Si’ and Make the New Deal for Nature and People through small intentional actions” adding that “they are expected to engage political leaders whom they have greater access to more than anyone else.”
In conclusion, Mr. Munene disclosed that, “We shall continue to support the network of the Catholic clergy that was created out of this project and to facilitate dialogue with everyone living on this planet.”
12.ETHIOPIA: Cardinal Appreciates Natural and Social Sciences Race After Medicine and Vaccine to Fight Against Covid-19
His Eminence Cardinal Berhaneyesus has issued a pastoral letter to the faithful and all people of good will on the current Covid-19 pandemic where, appreciating all efforts to fight the viral disease through scientific research to find medicine and vaccine to combat the diseases, he has stresses on keeping faith as key to overcoming despair.
“Health is in fact one of the crucial values for human beings. Giving priority to health is not luxury. In Ethiopian culture, wishing someone good health, Tena Yestelegn (May the Lord give you health on my behalf), is one way of greeting each other. Health is also the first thing people ask about when they meet. All other topics of conversation follow after they query about health. It is therefore not difficult to understand the big challenge we face in front of this current pandemic,” he says.
“We appreciate natural and social sciences. We recognize the race after medicine and vaccine to fight against viral diseases. All these endeavors are necessary. However, these efforts get more light if they are done with faith, hope and love. We need the light of faith in order to overcome unnecessary fear, disturbance, anxiety and despair. While resorting to maximum human effort, let us also rely on God’s grace. Let us lift up our eyes to God, the source of life, when human solutions seem to be so distant.”
Cardinal Berhaneyesus also adds that history “shows how numerous champions of faith, religious and lay, have sacrificed their life by serving the needy during pandemics” adding, “These witnesses of Christ have glorified God and human beings, created in His image and likeness. That is why today’s health workers and all assistants deserve our praise and recognition. Believing that the Lord blesses them for what they give, let us join them in their precious service through our prayers and actions.”
He insists that there is someone we often forget namely, Our Mother Earth, as he explains the pandemic in the context of the crisis of the environment we are currently facing.
“Mother Earth’s cry, together with the tears of the poor, reach the gates of heaven. To offend her is to offend her creator as it stands written, ‘Those who mock the poor insult their Maker (Pro 17:5 NRS).’ His Holiness Pope Francis says in Laudato Si no. 2.”
Therefore, Cardinal Berhaneyesus continues by inviting the faithful to actively take part in the Green Legacy project which the Ethiopian Government launched last year.
“Our beloved country Ethiopia is inviting us her children and people of good will to care for our common home by planting trees. As the rainy season starts soon, it is our duty and responsibility to respond to the invitation made by our Political leaders to plant trees and let us be part of the history of making Ethiopia green again.”
The letter further encourages the faithful to pray so that all may be guided by the light of the Holy Spirit to find a remedy to Covid-19.
“Let us ask for the light of the Holy Spirit. May the Spirit of God that hovered over the waters at the creation of the Universe eradicate this pandemic and allow us to sing the hymn of creation.”
13.TANZANIA: Catechetical Department to Launch Radio Catechism Program for Children
Following the global outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19) the Catechetical Department of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) intends to launch Catechism education program through radio to enable children in homes and other people to continue learning.
This was stated in a joint meeting between TEC’s Catechetical Department and Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam’s where catechists who will be teachers in the provision of the faith education through radio participated.
“Despite the challenge, we believe that the program will be sustainable and will help children at home to continue learning about their faith. This will also help children who are living in families where parents fail to raise their children in their faith,” said Fr. Beno Kikudo, Coordinator for the Catechetical Department in Archdiocese of Dar es salaam.
Fr Kikudo added that the program will also solve the challenge of congestion of children in Catechism class, which makes it difficult for catechists to teach comfortably.
“This program will allow children to ask questions as far as they can and enable catechists to respond to children’s curiosity. We will also set up an outreach program with a few children who have knowledge about the subject of the particular day. This will make it easier for children to pay attention especially when they hear their age mates participating in the sessions,” he added.
Announcing the launch of the program, TEC Catechetical Department Director Fr. Liston Lukoo said that the program will be launched on Monday, June 15, 2020 and will begin airing on Radio Maria Tanzania on Saturday June 20, 2020.
SIGNIS Africa Trains Trainers on Online Project Application Platform